SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The crew of the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) celebrated the birthday of the ship's namesake, President Ronald Reagan.
The ship's supply department baked a large cake with the president's likeness on it, and just prior to cutting the cake, the ship's commanding officer, Capt. Kenneth Norton, led the crew in a rendition of 'Happy Birthday' to the nation's 40th president.
"President Reagan was a personal hero of mine," said Norton during the celebration. "He made the entire nation feel proud to be American again. He made it OK to be patriotic. We are all honored to carry on his legacy of 'Peace Through Strength' (the ship's motto)."
Many Ronald Reagan Sailors said they were proud to serve aboard a ship named after a man many historians credit with helping to bring an end to the Cold War, among other accomplishments.
"I love serving here. I'm surrounded by history," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) Airman Ciena Faeth. "It's an honor to serve aboard this ship because President Reagan was such a great man."
"This is the finest ship in the Navy," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Keith Perkins. "Ronald Reagan's greatness resonates in these walls."
During an all hands quarters the morning of the birthday celebration, select Ronald Reagan Sailors received awards from the Santa Barbara chapter of the United States Navy League (SBNL), in recognition of excellence in the line of duty. As part of a Ronald Reagan tradition, the ship's Sailor of the Year, Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class Jose Arroyo received a Stetson cowboy hat, a Reagan favorite.
"We hope you'll wear this with pride up at the Reagan ranch," said Grant Ivey, vice president of the SBNL. "We all are very proud of this crew and proud of the affiliation we in Santa Barbara have had with this ship since christening. On the day President Reagan would have turned 98, we would like to salute you for the way you've carried on his legacy."
USS Ronald Reagan is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 7 and the ninth of ten Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. The ship is named for the 40th U.S. president; its motto, "Peace through Strength," was a recurring theme during the Reagan presidency.
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) - Ronald Reagan Strike Group, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.